Health warnings have been issued across Europe as temperatures soar to potentially dangerous levels. A heatwave is currently extending across the continent, from Portugal and Spain in the west, through France and Italy, to Poland and Greece in the east, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees in some areas.

Europe heatwave
The thermometer of a pharmacy in Rome shows a temperature of 45 degrees CelsiusAlberto Pizzoli/AFP

Italy is in the grips of its worst drought in 60 years, leading to several cities rationing water and cutting of decorative fountains. Thermometers in Rome showed a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius on Wednesday (2 August).

Europe heatwave
A woman cools off at a fountain in downtown Rome as a heatwave hits ItalyMax Rossi/Reuters
Europe heatwave
A man in central Rome shelters from the sun under a a clothAndreas Solaro/AFP
Europe heatwave
A car tyre lies on a dry sandbank near the Po River in Linarolo, northern Italy, as the country is affected by a heat wave and droughtMarco Berterello/AFP

Austria imposed a ban on horse carriage rides in Vienna on Tuesday (1 August). A city ordinance gives carriage horses the day off once temperatures reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit.)

Europe heatwave
People queue at a public drinking fountain in the centre of ViennaHeinz-Peter Bader/Reuters
Europe heatwave
A coachman cools down his Fiaker horses in Vienna, Austria. The city's famous horses were given the day off because of extreme temperaturesHeinz-Peter Bader/Reuters

After ravaging northern Corsica, wildfires are now raging in the southern half of the French Mediterranean island. Authorities issued warnings about soaring temperatures across southern France and the Mediterranean. Temperatures reached 41C in the Rhone Valley. Further east in Europe, Prague hit 36C - one degree below the record and 12 degrees above average.

Europe heatwave
A man swims near the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM) in the Vieux Port (Old harbour) in Marseille, southern France, as a heatwave hits the cityBertrand Langlois/AFP
Europe heatwave
Children play in mist at a water fountain in Nice as a heatwave hits south of FranceEric Gaillard/Reuters
Europe heatwave
Women sit under the shade of an umbrella on Ricanto beach in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, where temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees CelsiusPascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP
heatwave Europe
A firefighter stands in front of blazing flames as a wildfire burns in the area of Kalyvia, near AthensAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Europe heatwave
A girl stands in a fountain in Prague as a heatwave hits the Czech Republic with temperatures of over 35 degrees CelsiusMichal Cizek/AFP
heatwave Europe
People cool off in a pool at a water park in Minsk, Belarus, where temperatures exceeded 30 degreesSergei Gapon/AFP

The higher temperatures in Europe are a reflection of what is happening around the planet. Average global surface temperatures in the first six months of this year were 0.94°C above the 1950–1980 average, making the first half of 2017 the second-hottest on record, behind only 2016.